books

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Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Wally Lamb's books beat with a human heart.

Many people, especially Wally Lamb's fans, recall that his first novel, She's Come Undone, was selected by Oprah's book club. But what I remember is the experience of riding in the New York subway, and seeing so many people bumping along, engrossed in his story. On one occasion, these subway readers, strangers to each other, started a discussion about the book—possibly the first underground book club. 

Crime fiction writer Lawrence Block lives in New York's West Village, in a stately art deco building overlooking Abingdon Square. He bought an apartment there decades before actress Jennifer Aniston did. (She sold hers shortly thereafter.) Block is 76, silver-haired and keen-eyed; and in his pastel shirt and khakis, he looks decidedly more Hamptons than downtown.

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There are ways today in which our topics are interconnected. Actress and writer Mellini Kantayya, wants to talk about the issues of diversity in casting. One of our other topics involves the fallout from Ira Glass's recent tweet that "Shakespeare sucks." New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead joins us to discuss her article deploring the modern vogue for

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Faith's motto on The Book Show is… Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed. And, hey, kids, we'd love to hear from you about books you love.

Gags9999 / Flickr Creative Commons

If you were dreaming up a new religion, maybe you wouldn't include the idea of hell. But in traditional forms of Christianity, even as they evolve, hell seems almost grandfathered in. They can't quit hell. Or can they? A 2013 Harris poll found that while 74% of U.S. adults believe in God, and 68% believe in heaven, only 58% believe in the devil and in hell, down 4 percentage points from 2005. Still, 58%! That seems like a lot.

Successfully erotic sex scenes are notoriously difficult to write, but novelist Amy Bloom has hit the jackpot in her new novel, Lucky Us, featuring one of the most glamorous orgy scenes of all time. The irresistibly steamy Hollywood party involves a roomful of stars and starlets dancing, flirting, and seducing in the old Hollywood of the 1940s.

Five years ago, printing your own book was stigmatized and was seen as a mark of failure.

"But now," says Dana Beth Weinberg, a sociologist at Queens College who is studying the industry, "the self-published authors walk into the room, and they say, oh, well, 'I made a quarter million dollars last year, or $100,000, or made $10,000.' And it is still more than what some of these authors are making with their very prestigious contracts."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Breathes there a man with soul so dead that he has never written a song parody?

Everybody does right? They get passed around on the schoolyard from the time we're little. Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, etc.

And, you might knock one out for a co-workers retirement party.

And, the internet is one big old song parody farm. In between last week's Nose on which we talked about a really terrible Comcast users service call and now, somebody on YouTube has set that call to music.  No kidding.

The growing number of people who identify as transgender is raising a lot of interesting and complicated questions about gender identity.

The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people — and the social, political and medical issues they face. It's written by and for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970s feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.

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Philippe Petit made his walk between the towers of the World Trade Center 40 years ago. He stayed up on that wire for 45 minutes, made 8 passes between the towers, got down on his knees, and he even laid down on it! But it's more than that one feat - it was a placeholder for a much broader philosophy of risk and creativity, and evidence of who the man really is.

Chion Wolf

Imagine having no capacity for language acquisition. Imagine developing a language with grammars that are completely independent from the spoken language of the surrounding hearing culture. Imagine being unable to engage in any of the thought processes I'm using right now.  Choosing words and bundles of words to convey meaning, pausing to ponder the interesting similarities between deafness and deficit. Grabbing for a phrase like language acquisition and appreciating the neat little package it represents. 

Moyan Brenn/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Kevin Wong / Flickr Creative Commons

On Monday, we do The Scramble. And on the Scramble, we always start with a SuperGuest, which means that in defiance of public radio logic, we pick the person first and then figure out what the topics will be. 

This week we started with June Thomas, one of my favorite Slate.com writers and talkers, and someone I assumed would want to riff at least a little bit about pop culture. Instead, her top two choices are Gay Pride month and dentistry.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Jeff VanderMeer is one of the hottest writers in the science fiction and fantasy genre. MG Lord is a humorist and recovering political cartoonist who has written books about Elizabeth Taylor and Barbie. Louis Bayard writes historical fiction who specializes in detective novels, but his new book features Teddy Roosevelt stalking a mysterious beast through the Amazon. That's the river and jungle, not the book dealer.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Why pencils? Here's an answer from PencilRevolution.com, one of the many pencil blogs and websites we uncovered while prepping for this show: "The first and best reason to use pencils is because you like them, and enjoy writing, drawing with them. Because you feel better connected to the paper you're writing on (or the wall, etc.), and the earth, from which the clay, the graphite, and the wood all came. Because they smell good. Because sharpening them can be sort of a meditative process. Because you can chew on them. Or for reasons we can't explain."

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Henry Alford is a very funny writer. I've been laughing at his writing since about 1990, when he erupted in Spy Magazine, with hilarious speculative pieces like, "What If The Pope Were A Dog?"

Not long ago, he was asked to review a collection by another funny writer, Garrison Keillor. He did it, keenly aware that many people who find him funny are the kinds of people who find Keillor tiresome. And, maybe a bigger problem, Keillor had written some columns about gays and atheists that riled up not just Alford's fans, but people he knows pretty well. So what's a critic to do? Alford actually admired some things about the book, and said so. There was pushback. We'll talk about that today on The Scramble.

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Faith's motto on The Book Show is… Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

To hear Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and once and maybe future Democratic presidential candidate tell it, her new book, Hard Choices, isn't the kickoff to a 2016 campaign.

She still hasn't made up her mind about another run for the presidency, she told Renee Montagne, co-host of NPR's Morning Edition. It's more a review of the decisions she made as the nation's top diplomat.

Freakonomics god Stephen Dubner is our SuperGuest for today's Scramble, and he talks about how to think more rationally and creatively, the upside of quitting, and the latest studies on happiness. Then, we chat with sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, and WNPR's capital region reporter Jeff Cohen, on the value of publicly-funded sports arenas. What's the status on the possible building of a baseball stadium in Hartford? Is it a done deal? What else have we learned and expect to understand about what a business like that may do to the city?

Mstyslav Chernov/unframe.com / Creative Commons

Dan Brown does a lot of complicated historical research for his novels like The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. Sometimes, a simple raw number just jumps out at him, and onto the page.

"A couple years ago," he told me on WNPR's Where We Live, "I heard a statistic that just sort of floored me: In the last 80 years, the population on the planet Earth has tripled. I thought, 'That can't be right.'"

Ross MacDonald and Tony DiTerlizzi

Some of America's favorite children’s book authors will visit Newtown this weekend including the creators of Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Ella Enchanted, and The Spiderwick Chronicles. They’ll go to schools and talk with students on Friday and participate Saturday in panels and workshops.

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When the great poet Maya Angelou died last Wednesday, we learned about it during a conversation about the death penalty. Maybe you learned about it while reading about deadly violence in Ukraine, or the search for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. 

Her death was sad news, to be sure. We don’t think we're the only ones who felt forced to step back from the news and consider the beauty and power of words.

This hour, in memory of Maya Angelou’s spirit, we welcome a group of Connecticut poets into our studio to read their work and try to measure the art and power of poetry.

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Luanne Rice has written 31 novels, five of which have been made into movies or mini-series. Her work has been featured in playhouses across the country, including Connecticut's own Hartford Stage. Her latest book, The Lemon Orchard, uses her signature themes of family and loss to tackle the difficult path of illegal immigrants in America.

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Faith's motto on The Book Show is… Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

People who attend Comic Con and Star Trek conventions -- or nerds in general -- used to be the butt of jokes, including a famous "Saturday Night Live" skit by William Shatner, where he tells "Trekkers" to get a life.

Now "fandom" is a huge industry. It generates more than $500 million by one estimate, and is growing in both revenue and attendance. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

On any given day, it's pretty easy to find all the ways in which modern media has substituted politicization for truth and/or serious reflection. Today, you could take the so-called Santa Barbara killing spree by Elliot Rodger. After the usual first round of back and forth sniping about the availability of weapons.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The story of Josh Hanagarne isn't necessarily funny. He was born with Tourette Syndrome, a poorly understood neuropsychiatric disorder which inflicts on Josh a blizzard of tics, flinches, whoops and yelps.  Most disconcertingly, he frequently hits himself in the face.

Josh's first refuge was books, and that led to a career as a librarian. His second refuge was playing the guitar, which somehow distracted his mind from the triggers producing the tics. And his third refuge was exercise, specifically strength and weight training. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Can the culture of one nation ever understand that of another? Critics say Fox's newest reality show in which 12 witless contestants believe their in a fight to the near death for the attention of England's Prince Harry. "I Wanna Marry Harry" is said to represent a new low in reality television.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Author Dan Brown has written some of the biggest blockbuster books, from The Da Vinci Code to his latest book, Inferno. He’s coming to Hartford next month to talk with John Dankosky at the Bushnell. This hour, he joins us for a preview of that conversation.

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